Coronavirus: Police send home twitchers searching for rare bird

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Ring ouzel stock imageImage source, Tim Melling
Image caption,
About 15 birders from across the country congregated on Cleeve Common after the ring ouzel was reportedly spotted

Birdwatchers who flocked to a beauty spot in Gloucestershire to catch a glimpse of a rare bird have been sent home, police have said.

About 15 twitchers from across England congregated at an undisclosed spot in Cleeve Common, near Cheltenham, after the ring ouzel was reportedly spotted.

Ignoring the government's advice, the group had travelled from as far as Birmingham to see the bird.

The RSPB said it was "totally unacceptable" in the current situation.

Following the government crackdown on social distancing, people are being asked to stay at home, not travel unnecessarily and not gather in groups of more than two people.

'Go home'

Police said 10 cars and 15 people had set themselves up next to one another with long-sighted cameras and binoculars.

Wildlife crime officer PC Nick Westmacott said: "All of their details were obtained, and they were politely told to go home.

"On checking where they had travelled from, they had come from Birmingham, Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham and some from local Cotswold areas.

"The message is: Stay Home, Save Lives. All have been reported to the RSPB."

Tony Whitehead, from the wildlife charity, said the incident was "totally unacceptable"

"Given the current situation and very clear government advice birders should not be travelling around the country in search of rare birds," he said.

"In no way is this essential."

He added, that he had "not seen the report from the police" but suggested they were "all sent to their rooms and asked to think very hard about what they've done".

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